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dogs in dublin

Issue 11 February 2022

Image by André Lergier
Michaelmas Daisies

the lively eMagazine shimmering substance with  sun

White Fabric

order of contents on emag page laptop version
 

Laptop
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  1. my dogs and me  by the editor

  2. lead story -  season with extra spring by Desmond Purcell

  3. fizzy blitz by  Steffi Baker

  4. elixir for common... ear infections by Eric Lowe

  5. spring clean conduct by Diana Darcy

  6. a dog for Joyce by Joe Kenny

  7. go from ordinary  to extraordinary - outdoors with your dog and the chaffinch

  8. my pick from archive  by Steffi Baker

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The longer evenings and louder bird song herald the end of winter for me.  It's been kind this year.  Of course early spring can be vicious but that's another story.

The arrival of spring seems to be a good reason to take a fresh look at our priorities and what we value.

Yesterday, when I was walking my dogs up the hill at Orwell towards Rostrevor park we were confronted by three school boys, probably mid-teens on the footpath coming down the steep hill.  The boys had large sports bags on their shoulders and they were on scooters.  As they approached my two big dogs the first accelerated using rapid leg-to-ground action whizzing by very close to the animals.  It felt like he was targeting us.  The second was equally as nonchalant.  The third slowed down a bit and seemed to have an inkling of awareness of the situation.

 

It was sad to see that these boys, probably on their way to training of some sort, seemed to lack any awareness of the impact of their behaviour on young, strong animals.  Outside of the general danger posed, the absence of any sense of good manners was quite shocking.  

my dogs and me

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I had no sooner turned my back to walk towards the door when I heard a yelp.  I looked around to find my dogs on a merry-go-round.  Foolish me asssumed that the gate was secured open!  Now, it was out blocking the footpath with my dogs attached!

In a few minutes order was restored.  The dogs seemed to recover faster than me.  I have a visual of my first visit to the television journalist's house that I don't expect to forget in a hurry.

A few days ago I was walking my dogs on Upper Dodder road.  I met two women who I've seen a few times before.  One asked me had I always two dogs as she had only ever seen me with one.  She also commented on my dog's marketing vests.

 

Yippee! This was my opportunity to give out our business card.  A bit of a 'Brigid Jones' struggle holding two strong dogs but eventually achievable!  On glancing at the card, one of the women suggested that I drop it in to a television journalist who lives locally. She gestured with her hand to indicate the road.  The other woman described the house in relation to the bungalows but couldn't recall the number.  Finally, they both agreed that it was a semi-detached house with a new door.

 

Needless to say I was on to it immediately.  Following all of the excellent details given, I quickly found the house.  It looked like there was no one at home.  However, I decided to be ready if anyone did answer. 

 

My eye caught the strong rails on the old wrought iron gate at the entrance to the house.  I carefully replaced the Canny collar on each dog with the regular one and attached the leather hand-hold of the lead to the gate.  My dogs looked secure for the few minutes that it would take me to knock.

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Another day, my dogs and me were returning home after our constitutional to the river.

Coming down Rathgar avenue we saw a nervous woman with her dog.  She was trying to cross the road but couldn't with the constant flow of traffic.

As the traffic flow eased, I decided to cross to reduce her obvious distress at the sight of us.  A man in a station wagon very kindly indicated that I could cross in front of him.  I acknowledged his consideration and smiled as I called my dogs to cross with me.  Kirstin complied.  Karl choose that moment to stick himself to the road.  He had spotted the woman's dog although in hiding and refused to budge.  I had to go back and haul him by the collar across so that traffic could resume to flow on Rathgar avenue.  

Karl somehow always selects the moment when he will show his strength to all in sundry.  It feels like he calculates with great precision the perfect set of circumstancs that will cause me the maximum embarrassment.

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Image by Markus Spiske

season with extra spring

by Desmond Purcell
Journalist
PIC Markus Spiske

The coming of spring is extra special this year.  After two years the lifting of those Covid restrictions on our freedom has given us all an extra spring in our step. “The winter of our discontent” as Shakespeare puts it, has given way to a return of our right to mingle and socialise and simply let the hair down.

But we must not allow our euphoria get too much ahead of ourselves.  Springtime, like any other season has its particular hazards for our canine friends and the Wag! website offers some interesting insights into those pitfalls.

Image by Alvan Nee
PIC Alvan Nee
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Restlessness: “Many dogs tend to be more excitable and restless during the spring months and this can lead to misunderstandings and arguments when interacting with other dogs”. Highly strung or highly energetic they become fuelled by the new joie de vivre which unfortunately in some cases prompts them to escape the confines of their homes leading to accidents out on the street and sometimes the inability to find their way back. Extra exercise and chew toys are recommended to calm this restlessness and keep your dog busy and entertained.

Image by Allef Vinicius
PIC Allef Vinivius

Allergies:  These are caused by pollen, mold and mildew spores which are carried in the springtime air and also by insects which start to multiply around that time of year. Flea treatments are so important as they prevent dogs developing irritating rashes on their skin among other nasty things.

Eating dangers: While our canine pals explore the world with their noses, they put their mouths to vigorous use too often ingesting stuff which is bad for them like compost, pesticides or even rotting food.

Toxic plants:  If you are looking forward to doing some spring gardening avoid planting anything toxic to your dog.  Bluecross.org.uk gives a very useful list of what to avoid and it includes tulip, clematis and sweet William.

NB  Be sure to check out the series run by 'dogs in dublin' in April, May, June and July 2021 editions entitled 'a sensory garden for you and your dog...' now accessible on 'archive' page.

Separation anxiety:  Outside of the seasonal hazards for so many pups and dogs this spring has an extra sting in the tail – the end of lockdown. After two years of lockdown people who worked at home are returning to their offices. Unfortunately, this will lead to separation anxiety for many canines young and old.  They have got used to you sharing your working day with them – especially pups – who have known nothing else but the lockdown routine. Sure, there are dogs who take the change in your working situation in their stride but others cannot cope.

Image by Simon Hurry
PIC Simon Hurry

The Royalcanine.com website outlines the tell-tale signs of separation anxiety. Is he following you around the house or trying to leave with you? Does he bark or whimper when you go? Is there destructive behaviour when you are out such as chewing, destroying things or soiling even though he is house trained? Is there a loss of appetite?

Image by Diego Passadori
PIC Diego Passadori

If you haven’t returned to the office yet there is time to sort out this problem. Start creating a routine more akin to your pre lockdown working life. Begin spending more time apart from your dog. Place him in a safe and comfortable space in your home with enough chews and toys to keep him happy.  Before you do that make sure he has had some exercise. This will make it easier for him to relax or take a nap while you are away.

Another tip is to leave a radio on in your absence to dull the dog’s sense of isolation. Lucky you if there is a friend or family member willing to walk the dog in your absence.

Build up a regular routine, be patient and – this is important - try to connect with the painful anxiety your dog feels and the end of lockdown will become a happy time not only for you but also for your canine pal.

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fizzy blitz

by Steffi Baker
Image by Aaron Burden
PIC  Aaron Burden

I’m full of the joys of spring.  Changing my daily routine and everyday stuff is exciting for me.  I like new starts, new ways, in short the unexpected appeals.  At this time of year I have to remind myself that my dog takes a very different view.  It’s not that dogs don’t rejoice in the general buzz of spring, it’s just that their security depends on a constancy in routine behaviour and regular daily happenings.

Image by Beth Macdonald
PIC Beth Macdonald

With all the new aromas starting to present themselves it’s even more important than ever to allow the dog to properly sniff around when out walking.  I remind myself that unlike me who depends largely on my eyes to find my way around, a dog uses his sense of smell to understand where he is and what might be on tap here.  A dog needs to be allowed to sniff to behave naturally.  Otherwise, frustration, stress and depression will happen to him.

Dogs look to us for guidance every day.  I need to remember this especially when I’m tempted to throw caution to the wind and shake up the structure of my daily life in springtime.  Canine confusion bursts out all over when there is a sudden switch in the rules.  A change in my body language is mind-boggling enough for the dog who depends on me for consistency in his life.  As far as a dog is concerned a good leader provides a structure and routine in his life that he simply cannot thrive without.

PIC Matt Briney
Image by Gary Sandoz
PIC Gary Sandoz

I must admit that I’m generally a bit of a tease.  I get a kick out of it.  The return of feisty bird song in spring makes me a bit extra fizzy too.  When the temptation to cross the human-canine boundary with it bubbles up in me I have to hold myself back.  Dogs simply cannot understand the concept of teasing.  As far as they are concerned pretence is cruel.  In fact a dog can lose confidence in a person who consistently teases him to the point that he becomes distrustful and decidedly uncomfortable in the company of the tease.  It has happened that a dog can develop aggressive tendencies to someone who regularly plays unfairly.

Image by Sebastian Coman Travel
PIC Sebastian Coman Travel

So while feeling the full impetus of springtime, consistency when it comes to dogs is in season whatever the weather.

Image by Hans Vivek
PIC Hans Vivek

elixir  for common ...
ear infections in dogs

by Eric Lowe
 

 A home remedy is defined as a ‘substance of claimed medical value derived directly from plants or other natural sources’ according to the Collins dictionary of medicine.  Homeremedycentral.com describes a natural cure as a ‘treatment to cure a disease or ailment that employs certain spices, vegetables, vitamins, minerals, herbs, aromatherapy or other common items.    The medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com refers to natural cures as a ‘heterogeneous set of practices ‘that are offered as an alternative to conventional medicine, for the preservation of health and the diagnosis and treatment of health-related problems: its practitioners are often called healers’.  The dictionary expands to say that ‘alternative health care practices constitute a vast array of treatments and ideologies, which may be well-known, exotic, mysterious, or even dangerous, and are based on no common or consistent philosophy, the practitioners range from being sincere, well-educated, and committed to their form of healing, to charlatans, deprecatingly known as ‘quacks’.

Image by Riley Crawford
PIC Riley Crawford

I have had a keen interest in home remedies for everything since childhood and have accumulated a bit of knowledge accordingly.  Taking all of this on board, this month I write to make suggestions on how some ear infections can be treated at home.  My purpose is to make you aware of just some of the options open to you when this happens to your dog to prevent the need for medication.  The home remedies I present are underpinned by this statement; if symptoms persist consult your veterinarian.

Image by Sereja Ris
PIC Sereja Ris

Ear infections are a common cause  of irritation to dogs.  Most experience this discomfort at some point in their lives, more likely in the summer months.

Dog’s ears have a natural defence mechanism to protect them against foreign bodies but no weaponry works like clock-work all of the time.  Ear infections are often caused by bacterial or yeast infections, ear mite infestations and even sometimes food allergies.  If your dog is constantly scratching the ears, contorting himself so to rub the ears against the floor or indeed shaking the head a lot, be sure to take a closer look.  On inspection you may find a foul smell or discharge accompanied by redness and swelling.

Image by Deanna Fletcher
PIC Deanna Fletcher

While there are multiple reasons for the presence of inflammation in your dog’s ears, wax build up is leading the posse. The amount of wax present is breed variable.  Note that wax build-up is a breeding ground for germs and infection.

Allergy is another culprit.  Allergic responses are essentially immune responses and can be triggered by the internal and external environment, foods, shampoos etc.  Ears that are moist with wax build-up are sitting ducks when it comes to susceptibility to inflammation as germs thrive in moisture.  This applies especially to water loving breeds like Retrievers.

Non-pathogenic bacteria from the normal body flora for example staphylococcus,  pathogenic germs from swimming in lakes or dirty water and fungi are the three principal trespassers.  Yeast is the most common fungal issue for dogs as it is present on the body of mammals.  When the yeast finds a warm moist place like a wet dog’s ear, it is in business.

 

Otitis externa is inflammation or infection of the external part of the ear.  According to Dana Scott ‘in about a sixth of dogs with otitis externa, the infection can spread into otitis media….Unresolved otitis media can spread to become otitis interna….can lead to loss of balance and deafness’.

Prevention is always better than cure, especially if you choose to take a natural approach to dog remedies before consulting your vet.  It’s a good idea to check your dog’s ears for infection on a weekly basis.  Look in the ear and also smell it.  Only clean dirty ears.  Otitis externa can be easily managed at home.  You should be aware that antibiotics used for bacterial ear infections disrupt the bacterial balance in the gut which can cause more health issues when bacteria or yeast grow out of control.  Something to keep in mind most especially if your dog has a ‘delicate’ constitution.

 

Believe it or not, over-cleaning your dog’s ears can result in ear infections.  However, there are some soothing remedies to provide relief.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This is a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic

Pour a cup of apple cider vinegar and a cup of distilled water into a spray bottle  Close the bottle and shake to mix

Spray solution into the affected ear

Clean twice daily with a clean cloth or swab for a fortnight

Ensure that you get the liquid into the ear canal by holding the dog’s ear still

Then, massage gently below the ear.

Tea Tree Oil

Add 3 drops of tea tree essential oil to 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Thoroughly mix the two oils.

Using a dropper, put a few drops of the blend in the affected ear.

Swab gently all around the visible part of the ear.

Apply once daily for 1 to 2 weeks

When you are tuned into your dog you will sense fairly quickly if the home cure is working.  If symptoms persist, consult your vet.

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Sources
 

doghomeremedy.com

dogsnaturallymagazine.com

spring clean conduct

by Diana Darcy

Spring is in the air!  The blackbird in my small garden has taken to the rafters filling the place with irresistible music in the evenings.  I dawdle a bit to breath in the fine light at the close of the day.  My logic tells me that early spring can be more brutal than winter but my heart brims over with the new sensation, especially before dusk.

PIC  Gaston Abascal
Image by Gaston Abascal

I throw myself into spring cleaning in the broadest sense.  This year I’m remembering how to correct some slippages in conduct that I notice as I walk my dog.  Even George, who is well-trained since two months of age, can slide backwards occasionally.  In fact, this weekend he urinated in the apartment, once!  I know that with healthy dogs, this can be down to anxiety or excitement.  When I asked myself if anything changed recently that could be stressing him out I could only come up with my new boyfriend.  Oh dear!

Image by Elias Maurer
PIC  Elias Maurer

Four paws on the ground and bingo was my mantra when training George.  Of course I know that dogs reckon jumping up is a no-brainer when it comes to getting attention.  Ignoring is not an option.    So I tried to make jumping up on me as dull as possible.  Cold as you like, I crossed my arms, looked away and even gently turned away and I did it every day.  I made it crystal clear that I was open for cuddles only with four paws on the ground.  So, very quickly he learned that four paws work better than two with me.

Image by Matt ODell
PIC Matt ODell

All dogs love to chew.  Even now, I scan the environment around George for things that I don’t want him to chew and remove all I can.  I hate myself when I forget something.  Then, I can only blame myself.  Chewing is essential to maintain healthy jaw muscles so it is crucial to provide a dog with objects that he can chew.  Key is that the dog learns to differentiate between chewable and must be avoided.  My old leather foot ware is his favourite.  He knows that when I give it to him it’s OK.  I find hard chews work well to replace skirting board biting but the best cost a bit.  The price of a bottle of wine in some cases!  Puzzle toys are recommended for paper shredders.

Fact is dogs are naturally much faster than us.  With so many temptations for them on the daily walk, it must be downright frustrating to have to wait for us slow-coaches all the time.  Yet, loose lead walking is the only safe and satisfying way to walk-out with your dog.  As soon as the lead goes tight, stop dead.  Only walk on when the lead goes loose again.  Soon, the dog will cop on to the fact that although with the best will in the world most humans are slow-coaches this is much preferable to breakdown status! 

Image by Jay Heike
PIC Jay Heike

When in the park, it’s always prudent to keep a close eye on dogs at play.  Most of the boisterous interchanges are just that.  However, if you spot a stiffening up, a pulling back of the ears or a domination of the other dog, then move in quickly to separate them before things gather a head of steam.  If it’s too late for separation and things escalate, stay out of it body-wise.  Best to make a loud noise to create a sharp shock or douse the sparing pair with the contents of your water bottle. 

 

Spring is in the air alright.  I have dusted down my key canine conduct code.  Perhaps others might do likewise.

a dog for Joyce

by Joe Kenny
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Joe Kenny is a retired accountant

who is active in Joyce reading circles.  His piece is about Joyce's talking dog, Garryowen.

Many dog owners, myself included, will have noticed their dog making sounds which are clearly an attempt to speak. In James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” the phenomenon is mentioned by young Gerty MacDowell who, on 16th June 1904, sits on Sandymount Strand and dreams of how she will one day arrange a home with her as yet undiscovered husband and imagines “a beautifully appointed drawing room with pictures and engravings and the photograph of grandpapa Giltrap’s lovely dog Garryowen that almost talked it was so human.

However the starry-eyed Gerty is not aware that Garryowen also has a dark side. She does not know it but grandpa’s dog mixes with some robust and dubious company. Garryowen has befriended a nameless character known only as “the citizen” who holds nationalistic views which are laced with racism, xenophobia, and a myopic intolerance of other nations and who spends his time “arsing around from one pub to another, …with old Giltrap’s dog…”.

Image by Jacques Bopp
PIC 4emotions Werbeagentur

“Mangy ravenous brute sniffing and sneezing all round the place and scratching his scabs. And round he goes to Bob Doran that was standing Alf a half one sucking up for what he could get. So of course Bob Doran starts doing the bloody fool with him:

—Give us the paw! Give the paw, doggy! Good old doggy! Give the paw here! Give us the paw!

Arrah, bloody end to the paw he’d paw and Alf trying to keep him from tumbling off the bloody stool atop of the bloody old dog and he talking all kinds of drivel about training by kindness and thoroughbred dog and intelligent dog: give you the bloody pip. Then he starts scraping a few bits of old biscuit out of the bottom of a Jacobs’ tin he told Terry to bring. Gob, he golloped it down like old boots and his tongue hanging out of him a yard long for more. Near ate the tin and all, hungry bloody mongrel”.

 

In due course the citizen summons the dog to his side and a conversation ensues between man and dog on which there are varying views. Some hear only “hauling and mauling and talking to him in Irish and the old towser growling, letting on to answer, like a duet in the opera. Such growling you never heard as they let off between them” but more sensitive souls, hear Garryown recite a spontaneously composed poem:

 

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'The King of the Terriers – a name he earns as the largest of the Terrier breeds, originated in Yorkshire, when a group of breed enthusiasts met to 'show' their terriers at Airedale Show – in the area around Ilkley. The breed was often known as the Waterside Terrier because of their working of the riverbanks to keep down vermin.

The Airedale was used by the armed forces in the World Wars, and his excellent scenting powers brought him to be used as a tracking dog. He also has been used as a messenger dog in the trenches and as a pack dog with the Red Cross'.

Schiap – the dog which was given to James Joyce by fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli was an Airedale terrier.

PIC & TEXT thekennelclub.org.uk

The curse of my curses

Seven days every day

And seven dry Thursdays

On you, Barney Kiernan,

Has no sup of water

To cool my courage,

And my guts red roaring

After Lowry’s lights.

Clearly Garryowen is thirsty after the Jacobs’ biscuits and is moved to artistic heights in search of a “sup of water”. So the citizen immediately instructs the barman “ to bring some water for the dog and, gob, you could hear him lapping it up a mile off”.

 

For those who might not immediately recognise the artistic merit of Garryowen’s poem the narrator himself provides a literary commentary on the work and its recitation “ … the really marvellous exhibition of cynanthropy given by the famous old Irish red setter wolfdog formerly known by the sobriquet of Garryowen and recently rechristened by his large circle of friends and acquaintances Owen Garry. The exhibition, which is the result of years of training by kindness and a carefully thought-out dietary system, comprises, among other achievements, the recitation of verse. … [the verse] bears a striking resemblance (the italics are ours) to the ranns of ancient Celtic bards. The metrical system of the canine original, which recalls the intricate alliterative and isosyllabic rules of the Welsh englyn, is infinitely more complicated but we believe our readers will agree that the spirit has been well caught. Perhaps it should be added that the effect is greatly increased if Owen’s verse be spoken somewhat slowly and indistinctly in a tone suggestive of suppressed rancour”.

Ulysses by James Joyce. The 1934 text,

as corrected and reset in 1961, The Modern Library

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PIC  David George

When it comes to variety the Chaffinch sings in different accents, with birds from different regions chanting their own specific variation.  The song remains more or less similar.  ‘A bubbly string of notes, starting high and plunging throughout, finishing with a flourish resembling a wolf whistle.  It is loud, and males often sing two or three different song types, repeating many times’ as described by Petmania.ie

go from ordinary to
extraordinary

outdoors with your dog and the  chaffinch

Quite a shy bird.  The chaffinch sports a salmon pink underside and a blueish-grey head and neck which results in the male being an exceedingly handsome boy about town.  The upper back is a warm brown, and the lower back in an olive green tone, usually concealed by the bird’s folded wings when perched.  The tail feathers are white on a relatively long, dark tail.

Glamour does not abound with the females and juveniles, however.  In fact they are much duller and greyer but retain impressive white shoulder patches and feathers in the wings and tail when in flight.

PIC  Dan Russon

The male performs to the gallery in courtship with a simply stunning appearance that cannot fail to impress even the most resistant female.  ‘The male chaffinch in its full breeding regalia is one of our most colourful and striking birds’ according to Calvin Jones.  However, males in their first year and during the winter are duller, though not as dull as the female.

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The chaffinch is attracted to woodland, parks, gardens, fields, scrub and hedgerows to set up their stall .  Defence of the breeding area usually starts in February.  Nest building commences in April at the earliest.  Magnificent he may be but the male has to keep his distance from the dominant female while accompanying her around the breeding territory in the summer.  It is the female who builds a small cup-shaped nest with a variety of plant materials and spiders’ webs and lined with soft moss, lichen and feathers.  The nest presents a neat appearance, typically in the fork of a tree or bush close to the main trunk

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PIC David George

4-5 pale blue eggs with red blotches are laid, incubated by the female for 11-14 days.  The fledglings are fed by both parents and are fully fledged 13-14 days after hatching.  A single brood each year is the order of the day for the chaffinch.  Average lifespan is three years but the oldest known individual passed on at twelve years according to irishgardenbirds.ie.

Equipped with a bill good at de-husking, the chaffinch feeds on seeds, cereals and weeds.  A distinct preference to feed on the ground is displayed with the bird often seen tidying up underneath bird tables and feeders.  Insect larvae and adult insects are on the menu during the breeding season to provide protein for their growing young.

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PIC Amee Fairbank-Brown

‘Irish chaffinches are sedentary, with most breeding pairs returning to the same nest site year after year’ according to irishgardenbirds.ie.  The feisty female tends to migrate further than males in winter.  Ireland benefits from migrating females from further north to seasonally increase the chaffinch population.  Interestingly, in Scandinavia, only ‘bachelor’ males can be found in winter. 

 

Predators are the proverbial cat and pigeons.

Sources

birdwatchireland.ie
Calvin Jones
irishwildlife.com

Petmania.ie

Irishgardenbirds.ie

rspb.org.uk
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Image by Jeremy Bezanger

my pick from  archive...

by Steffi Baker
 
PIC Jeremy Bezanger

The article written by Neil O’Shea stuck in my mind a long time after I read it in the September edition.  I thought it was very funny but what I found really hilarious was the time he stayed in New York with a woman who had a pet wolf.  A pet wolf! Now that IS amazing. Dog lover I might be but a wolf! Now that would really scare me.  Another thing, it never entered my mind about what the dog thinks as he looks at his owner picking up his poo off the street. “What does she do with it all”. Neil was bang-on there.

He put the case for the cat lover’s point of view in a really delightful way. Yet, believe it or not, the funny way he was telling us why he preferred cats brought out a little bit of guilt in me. When I was a child, we’d a marmalade cat called Bobby which I adored. Then my dad brought home a westie puppy and I only had eyes for him. Poor Bobby must have felt I had deserted him because soon after he went out of our house one day and never came back.  I was heartbroken and really felt l had let him down. Yes, I had let him down – no doubt about it. That seemed to set the tone for what would be the pattern of my life – every joy I feel somehow ends up being tinged with sadness.  I call it the Steffi syndrome!

 from archive
September emag page

Image by Matias Tapia
Image by Amber Kipp
PIC  Amber Kipp

what if you are not a dog person?

by Neil O'Shea

I'm not really a dog person. However, I do find some dogs more acceptable than others. For example, being a cat person, I like dogs that in some way seem like cats. Perhaps they are, generally, smaller dogs who bark rarely if ever and who, because of their size, seem pickable upable in the way that a (friendly) cat is. (Unfriendly cats do exist and that is another question). You see, to me, dogs are too solid, whereas cats are malleable. I think that's my biggest problem with dogs.

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So some, not all, small dogs such as Corgis or Terriers or Cocker Spaniels are rather attractive and would seem manageable. And there are some bigger dogs that one (even this one) has to admire – Alsations, Irish Wolfhounds, German Shepherds, Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Huskies, Irish Red Setters.........well, ok....there are quite a lot. But I have to admit that even if I can admire some dogs they are alien creatures to me and I have no great knowledge of how to relate to them.

 

Dogs bark. Why do they bark? OK so they are useful as guard dogs. That's a positive, but when I knock on your door I don't want the welcome of a dog going crazy barking his/her head off. Nor do I want to be kept awake by a dog howling at the moon. Admittedly cats can make outdoor noises too but that is usually confined to a very occasional cat fight or for a spell during the mating season.

Image by Timo Volz

Other dog uses include helping the blind – one of their (if not the) most laudable activities. Rescue dogs are good. Sniffer dogs are good. Ok there are some good dogs. Interestingly they can be trained in such matters and that is a positive. And I know they are great companions for people. They help you get exercise. But cats can be toilet trained. The idea of having to pick up dog poo on an otherwise pleasant walk is just too much. As one dog recently said to himself (I imagine) 'There she is again collecting my poo – what does she do with it all? What a strange habit she has!'

PIC Timo Volz

And what if you don't like walking? Do you have a choice? Your dog requires to be taken out walking. Cats do their own walking – such independence of thought. And cats are connoisseurs when it comes to food. They know what they want – it all is part of their sense of style. I don't really wish to pit (on which subject I shall refrain from discussing such dogs as pitbull terriers or rottweilers) cats against dogs as I know it is possible to like both. Indeed, I have to admit that some dogs seem quite attractive and I daresay that one could learn to live with certain ones.

I have experienced some dogs. In my school days, cycling to school, one little character decided to chase me barking at my heels as I cycled. Knowing little of dogs I decided the best thing was to ignore him and cycle on......so he bit me. Yes, I had never done him any harm but he bit me. He did it out of pure badness. I had to get a tetanus injection. It made me wary of dogs.

Image by Kari Shea
PIC Kari Shea

On a visit to New York state some years ago I stayed with a lady whose pet was a wolf. Yes, an actual wolf. Tamed she told me. He had character and I quite enjoyed his company beside me, as I 'relaxed,' on the couch and later out walking. It was an interesting experience but I wondered just how tamed this majestic creature really was so I kept a wary eye on him and made no sudden movements.

Image by Anusha Barwa

I know the world is full of dog lovers. I can't see myself becoming one, but I suppose you can never say never. I should imagine that if I did ever happen to have a dog that I would get to appreciate it...... and perhaps even like it. But I can't quite see it happening. And anyway........the dog might not like me.

PIC Anusha Barwa